This exhibition is a landmark historical survey of twentieth century modern art movements across the Arabian Peninsula, collectively known in Arabic as the “Khaleej.” Based on Stoby’s PhD research, it traces the region’s ‘pre-boom era’ of the twentieth century through 2008 and examines the evolution of visual art movements as the discovery of oil began to transform the region. It delves into the shifting understanding of public and private spaces and their relationship to national identity as expressed through art practices.

Executive Director of The NYUAD Art Gallery and University Chief Curator Maya Allison notes, “An exhibition like this is quite rare, a kind of opening salvo and call to action, offering new vistas on art history and art practice in this region. Rather than a definitive survey, this project sets us on a journey to explore the under-studied – and, for some people, unknown – emergence of modern art in the Arabian peninsula over the last century. It is a profound honor that Dr. Stoby will present her original research with us, in this exhibition that was many years in the making. I thank her for partnering with us for this crucial, pathbreaking project.”

Guest curator of the exhibition, Dr. Aisha Stoby adds that, “Many of the works in this exhibition will be on view for the first time in decades, and it is a genuine privilege and honor to have been invited to bring this work to a wider audience. Enhanced by the presence of rare and archival material, Khaleej Modern creates a space and offers resources for learning and re-understanding our own histories. More broadly, we hope the exhibition will contribute to wider regional and global understandings of modern visual art. This project responds to emerging debates around recentering art narratives, toward a more nuanced and inclusive appreciation of global art histories. It has been incredible to be a part of this project and to see the artworks of these pioneering artists brought together for the first time.”

For Khaleej Modern, Stoby traces local art histories contextualized by deeply rooted traditions, the ongoing modernization process and evolving national identities. Foregrounding the importance of community and early art institutions, the exhibition brings to life the curator’s research on the artistic pioneers and collectives that sprang up in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

The artists in the exhibition:

Abdul Karim Al Bosta, Abdul Karim Al-Orrayed, Abdul Qader Al Rais, Abdulhalim Radwi, Abdullah Al Qassar, Abdullah Al Saadi, Abdullah Al Shaikh, Abdulrahman Alsoliman, Ahmed Qassim Al Sunni, Ali Mohamed Al Mahmeed, Anwar Sonya, Budoor Al Riyami, Ebtisam Abdulaziz, Hassan Meer, Hassan Sharif, Hussain Qassim Al Sunni, Ibrahim Ismail, Issa Saqer Al Khalaf, Khalid Albudoor, Khalifa Qattan, Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim, Mohammed Ahmed Rasim, Mohammed Al Saleem, Mohammed Kazem, Mojib Al Dosari, Moosa Omar, Mounirah Mosly, Munira Al Kazi, Najat Makki, Nasser Al-Yousif, Nujoom Alghanem, Rashid Abdul Rahman Al Balushi, Rashid Al Oraifi, Safeya Binzagr, Sami Mohammed, Thuraya Al-Baqsami, Yousef Ahmad, and Yousef Khalil.

The lenders to the exhibition:

Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation; Bahrain National Museum; Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah; son of Mohammed Ahmed Rasim; Estate of Hassan Sharif; Family Servais Collection; Hassan Meer; Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde; Lawrie Shabibi; Mahmood Nasser Al-Yousif; Mosly family; Qaswra Hafez; Reem Albudoor; Salwa S. AlQadi; Sharjah Art Foundation; Stal Gallery & Studio; Tawfiq Ahmed Al-Jarrah.

Lead Patrons:

Fairouz and Jean Paul Villain, Nisreen Bajis, Olivier Georges Mestelan